The Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA and Arctic Regions

4.3 pic

The key requirement of this work package is the development of a database (and supporting summary report), compiling information for potential renewable energy business and technology solutions to help overcome environmental and climatic challenges in the NPA programme region. Technology solutions cover installation, operation and maintenance of equipment, not the design and manufacture of components.

The objective of the database is to identify the main environmental and climatic challenges, and outline technological and business solutions to these challenges, creating a database of these for 8 different categories of renewable energy technology. It is designed for use by new and existing renewable energy businesses, to inform them of the challenges they may face in developing their business and how these will be overcome.

A range of examples (where available) have been highlighted on how the challenges identified have been overcome. Specific regional related innovations and smart solutions from local business on technology driven RE-solutions have been documented, with the intention of passing on this knowledge to other regions in the NPA not involved in the GREBE Project.

The 8 renewable energy technology categories identified by the GREBE Project partnership are:

  1. Biomass
  2. Wind (Onshore only)
  3. Solar PV
  4. Solar Thermal
  5. Hydro
  6. Ground source heat pump
  7. Air source heat pump
  8. Anaerobic Digestion (farm scale/agricultural)

The database is located on the Renewable Business Platform and can be downloaded here.

Advertisements

Advice Notes on Energy Storage Economics for the NPA Region

Energy Storage

The Advice Notes aim to provide introductory material for entrepreneurs, startups and SME’s, considering to enter into the renewable energy sphere and based in the NPA regions partners to GREBE. The scope of the Advice Note covers regional, trade and industry, renewable energy (RE), technology information from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and Finland. Different partner regions have different level of deployment of the various RE technologies covered by the Advice Notes. Thus, the level of information will vary depending on the level of deployment for each technology. For example, wind is not deployed on a large scale in North Karelia (Finland); however, it is widely deployed in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Full details are available on the GREBE website:

http://grebeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Advice-Notes-Energy-storage-2-3.pdf

The focus of the Advice Notes is on regional information of some of the main economic characteristics sited as imperative, when making an informed choice, regarding which RE technology may be the optimal choice for a new business venture:

  • Costs and economics associated with the relevant technology
  • Support schemes available, relevant to the technology
  • Government allowance/exemptions, relevant to the technology
  • Funding available for capital costs of the relevant technology
  • List of the relevant to the technology suppliers/developers, with focus on local/regional, suppliers/developers and the products and services they offer.

Some of the renewable energy resources are classified as intermittent in nature, meaning that the corresponding technologies produce electricity/heat depending on the availability of the resource. Two of the main drawbacks are the short-term variability and low predictability inherent to renewable sources. Thus, when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining, the clean technologies cannot match the demand. However, when the resources are available, it is often the case that they produce more energy than required. By storing the energy produced and supplying it on demand, these technologies can continue to power the businesses even when the sun has set and the air is still, creating a continuous, reliable stream of power throughout the day. Furthermore, energy storage systems can shift consumption of electricity from expensive periods of high demand to periods of lower cost electricity during low demand.

battery storage

This can be over different timescales, from intra-day (when energy is shifted from low value to high value periods within the same 24-hour period) to inter-seasonal, where energy is stored in summer when demand is lower and used in winter when demand is greater. Contingent on elements such as a facility’s location, utility rates, and electrical load, energy storage can be an apt solution for facilities to cut energy bills. The use of energy storage can also allow greater returns on investment to be made from deployed renewable energy technologies. Storage technologies could decrease the need to invest in new conventional generation capacity, resulting in financial savings and reduced emissions especially from electricity generation. Utilisation of storage also means fewer and cheaper electricity transmission and distribution system upgrades are required.

Heat Entrepreneurs’ meeting, April 4th Kontiolahti, Finland

KUAS

Annual meeting of the Finnish Heat Entrepreneurs in North Karelia was organised by the Finnish Forest Centre in April 4th Kontiolahti. The event focused on the energy wood markets and current development challenges, new harvesting method trials, drying of wood by using excess heat of energy plants, and socio-economic impacts of local heat entrepreneurships. After the meeting, participants had a visit to the Kontiolahti 1.5 MW heating plant equipped with a 7.6 kW solar power system.

Adjunct professor Yrjö Nuutinen from LUKE introduced latest research on the new corridor thinning method. The method – with 1-2 thinning corridors harvested in different formations – has been earlier applied in Sweden, US and Canada. Now the corridor thinning is studied and tested for pine dominated first thinning stands in Finland, aiming that it will be a generally accepted thinning method and it fulfills the forest management requirements of Forestry Centre.

The latest results on the socio-economic impacts of Eno Energy Cooperative were presented by GREBE partner Dr Lasse Okkonen from Karelia UAS. The total employment impacts of the Eno Energy Cooperative in 2000-2015, were approximately 160 FTE’s and total income impact in the same period about 6.6 MEUR. During the period of highest oil prices, over 50% of the benefits resulted from heating cost savings of both private households and public sector.

Bioeconomy expert Urpo Hassinen, from the Finnish Forest Centre, presented the latest results on the firewood drying by utilising excess heat of the heating plants. There was potential, especially when existing infrastructure could be utilised. Drying of woodfuel could also compensate the decreasing heat demand resulting from closure of public estates in rural areas.

CEO Janne Tahvanainen presented the market outlook from an industry perspective. The market fluctuations, caused by the weather challenges in last summer and autumn, as well as varying imports from Russia, were discussed. Weather challenges were considered a most important factor affecting current markets. For instance snow damages have increased harvesting volumes in northern part of North Karelia, and moist summers and autumns have affected biomass drying. Impacts of weather conditions on RE markets are being further investigated through the GREBE project during this spring.

Weather conditions causing blackouts in eastern Finland

KUAS

Power companies in eastern Finland have struggled for about a week to restore power to homes plunged into darkness as a result of power lines giving way under the burden of heavy snowfall shortly after the New Year.

The power companies in Kainuu, Northern Savo and Noth Karelia have deployed hundreds of electricians, and several helicopters and military vehicles to locate tree falls, and clear and repair downed power lines. Resident evacuations have been carried out in several rural municipalities due to lack of back-up heating systems and dropping temperatures. So far, about 20,000 households have experienced blackouts, some in most remote areas lasted over a week.

In Finland, national contingency planning is based on the contingency legislation stating responsibilities of organisations, institutes and privately-owned companies to prepare for emergencies. The system encompasses the society in all levels, and helps to respond in events such as experienced heavy snow and tree falls. The current operation in eastern Finland is coordinated accordingly by the Rescue Services.

The GREBE project investigates the impact of extreme weather conditions to the renewable energy business in northern and arctic peripheral areas. This includes sharing information on contingency planning, among others, which is essential topic as the latest challenges prove in the eastern Finland.

Contingency planning in Finland: https://arctic-council.org/eppr/resources/national-contingency-planning/finland/

The climate affected economy in the NPA-Regions

The second report from Work Package 4 in the GREBE Project was presented at the GREBE partnership meeting in Narvik this week. The results from the survey shows that the extreme climate has an affect on the economy and the financial outcome for businesses in NPA GREBE partner regions. Impacts of extreme weather / weather events on infrastructure is estimated to cost around €11 million only in Norway. This will give an estimated cost for the 6 NPA regions included in the GREBE project a weather dependent cost for the SMEs of approximately €60 – 80 million each year.

4.2 report cover 2

GREBEs Report on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA and Arctic Regions and the next steps

Rural businesses in the energy sector as well as other sectors provide an important liveihood in the northern peripheral areas of Europe. The harsh climatic conditions experienced in many NPA regions, particularly high north and arctic regions, present significant challenges to SMEs and start-ups that can seriously impact on the viability of their businesses. In the Report on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA and Arctic Regions there was findings that indicate that there exists significant climate challenges in the partner regions with different types of harsh weather. Low temperature, hard winds, and rain / snow conditions can be extreme in the NPA regions.

In the GREBE Report on Innovations from Local Technology and Business Solutions the question is: How do businesses located in these areas compensate or cope with unforeseen climate change effects?

What is extreme weather?

An extreme weather occurrence can be defined in different ways and the metrological institutes in each GREBE partner region have their definition made to optimize the specific conditions in each region. A broad institutional indication is often presented when life and values may be lost caused by the extreme weather condition. However, in this report the definition used is:

“Extreme weather conditions are weather that most likely provide problems for people, business and infrastructure”. 

“Local extreme weather” is the weather impact on societal infrastructure in the different NPA regions and is considered to affect the business activities. The phenomenon of “local extreme weather” is serious for the single business when it occurs and may have serious consequences for a business competing in an open market.

NSP 21-06-2017

Climate effects on society and business:

The impact of “local extreme weather” is considered manageable and moderate in most of the northern EU regions, and structural activities that can minimize the negative effects of harsh weather on small, rural energy companies:

  1. Regional cooperation – The diverse geographical areas of northern Europe, are experiencing a number of joint challenges in relation to location, but also possible opportunities that can be overcome and realized by regional cooperation. The experience from each region may be introduced to other Northern European areas and innovations from different parts in society can be used to create specific growth initiatives and common efficient business opportunities of the European Northern and Arctic regions in a climate efficient way. One major impact of challenges and initiatives in business operations is the influence of weather conditions on society and in the extension of SME business operations and productivity located in these areas.
  2. Strategic handling – Today, many operators in society refer to weather as a restriction in budget and argue that it is a phenomenon that has an actual impact on business. However, the weather can be a strong benefit for the business when an updated insight into the specific local conditions is available and by using a strategic handling document based upon regional knowledge and experience from other businesses. Even national weather organizations are today providing companies this service.
  3. Variety of weather – The final implication is that a change in weather pattern will result in a variety of weather phenomenon that can affect the NPA regions in a different matter. There are different effects on the society, depending upon the specific region, i.e. flooding, wind, and disturbance on roads by fallen trees or avalanche.

Results from the GREBE survey

As part of the GREBE Report on Innovations from Local Technology and Business Solutions, it was found that SMEs compensate for weather constraints and disruptions by:

  • Timing, operational planning and using experienced contractors
  • Compensating investments in fertiliser storage capacities
  • Avoiding challenging times in transportations (thaws)
  • Planning in construction phase (needed insulations) for arctic conditions
  • During processes by preventing freezing (heating, antifreezes)

 Business strategy – A minimal planning strategy for weather related disturbance in business are generally lacking both in long and in short seasonal terms. The absence of business strategies tends to characterise SMEs in rural GREBE regions both in limited financial contingency as well as in maintaining physical systems and services.

There are some cost related economic factors that will affect the small business in a rural areas of Northern Europe and it may be time to consider a new weather and climate economy that compensates the businesses that are fighting against the nature and experience higher costs in their energy operations. These companies are strategically located in rural areas which require entrepreneurs, employments opportunities and an innovative environment.

The full Report on Innovations from Local Technology and Business Solutions can be downloaded from the GREBE website HERE